The Bushman's poison is a medium to large woody
shrub with attractive hard dark green leaves. Clusters of pinkish
white, sweetly scented flowers are borne in late winter and spring
and are followed by large plum coloured berry-like fruits which
are relished by birds. The name Acokanthera is derived
from the Greek and refers to the sharp anthers of the flowers.
The species name refers to the opposite arrangement of the leaves.
found growing in the shade of other vegetation on forest margins
woodland and bush clumps, this species is widespread over many
parts of the country with the exception of the drier parts.
The milky sap of this plant was widely used by the
traditional bushmen (Khoisan) to form part of the cocktail used
to poison the tips of their notoriously toxic arrows in hunting.
All parts of the plant are highly poisonous
with the possible exception of the ripe fruits. This
plant is used medicinally to treat snake & spider bites, intestinal
worms and also for aches and colds.
Growing Acokanthera oppositifolia
The Bushman's poison is a hardy drought and frost
resistant evergreen shrub that tolerates full sun or shade and
also does well as a container plant. Propagation of this species
is from seed or semi-hardwood cuttings in the months of September
This shrub is one of three South African members
of the genus, Acokanthera. It belongs to the same family
as many popular sub tropical ornamental plants such as frangipani,
allamanda and oleander as well as the impala lily and num num.
This family is characterized by having sweetly scented flowers
and sticky milky sap which is often poisonous.